Saturday, October 14, 2006

No such bird

A smudge of light, hole
in the leaf layers 50 feet away,
moved across the glass pane
as he pushed open the door.

Bells accompanied his coming
and the lady, bent over
at a mouse cage but alert,
leaned up and straightened
her shirt and smiled at him.

"Hello" she said, mouth pinched
into an arc.

"Hello" he replied, and shifted
his eyes around the busy room.
The smell he liked and so passed over
for the sound of crickets burrowing
into the sawdust.
Mice broke kernels apart.
Something licked its chops. A parrot
squawked obnoxiously, inches from his ear,

and he drew back, hesitated, then said "Do you have
a small-boned bird, chestnut-red,
with a bright golden beak?"

She paused long enough for the light
reflected from a passing car outside the glass to move
across her face.

"There is no such bird."

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